Saturday, February 26, 2022

A Ukraine Primer

 I'll be the first to admit that I was not up to speed on the background of the Ukraine-Russia-US-NATO conflict.  I think that even those who are or were up to speed were shocked by Putin's full-scale invasion, That is understandable, given how many times the "intelligence community" has screamed that the sky is falling. If it wasn't the  Russian nukes in the Cold War, it was the constant threat from what George W. used to so folksily call "those terrorist folks."

So, many thanks to reader Valerie for sharing this excellent lecture by political science and foreign policy scholar John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago. Not only is it well worth an hour or so of your time, it should also serve as an antidote to all the jingoism and fear-mongering propaganda bombarding us from the mainstream media, or rather the five corporate entities which control more than 90 percent of everything we see, hear, and read. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Geld Vlad Better

 My fellow Americans, your government must sanction the oligarchs over there so we don't have to tax them over here.  

If only Joe Biden would expand his sanctimonious sanctioning of a few Russian billionaires in Vlad's inner circle into actually converting their "frozen" or "seized" real estate holdings in the United States into permanent, federally subsidized housing for poor people! Just think of how many people could be sheltered in the empty luxury penthouses and mansions they've been vacuuming up here since the fall of the Soviet Union, using them not as homes but as money-laundering banks.

 Then Biden finally might even start clawing his way back into positive poll territory.  After all, if he can unilaterally seize the frozen assets of the Afghan people and use them to settle lawsuits with the 9/11 survivors, then he can seize the myriad ill-gotten assets that Putin has no way of preserving for himself and his oligarchic pals. Even better, such seizure and allocation to the needy would not lead to the deaths of innocent civilians through starvation, disease and exposure to the elements. For once in the violent hegemonic history of these United States, what our leaders euphemize as their "responsibility to protect" through "humanitarian interventions" will be the real deal, and not just a fig leaf for mass destruction and violence.

And if he gets a good public response from real estate seizures from Russian oligarchs, he and the Congress he reveres might even want to expand it further with punitive taxes on the wealth of such sociopathic American tycoons as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

  But then again, the US municipalities which host the Russian oligarchs' real estate holdings could very well balk at losing their tax bases through such a federal seizure and redistribution. It would also mightily disappoint the private equity vultures doing their own predatory part of buying up homes and apartment complexes, forcing people to rent them at exorbitant rates. I assume that the foreign owners do pay some property taxes through their shell companies, despite all the sweetheart deals for concessions for buyers or developers in exchange for, as an example, allowing a little green space and one or two "affordable" apartments for the hoi polloi.

And as for the US-based zillionaires, cities are actually vying for their presence because it allegedly creates jobs, despite the fact that the municipalities themselves are on the hook for building the infrastructure and the helipads and other perks for the job-creators.

For when push comes to shove, capitalism knows no national boundaries, despite all the intra-oligarchic bickering and land grabs among the globe's nation-states. Vlad Putin's "invasion" of a small part of Ukraine the size of New Jersey is thus far limited* to diplomatically recognizing a region historically populated by ethnic Russians. There will be much bombast and posturing on both sides, with probably the biggest winner being the US military-industrial complex, standing to reap a windfall from weapons sales to a disorganized Ukraine military populated largely by neo-Nazi freedom fighters.

Speaking of freedom, official Washington is also "bracing" for the convoy of big rigs driven, allegedly, by white supremacist fascists whose only desire is to be freed from mask and vaccine mandates. Never mind that our leaders can't seem to rid themselves of the mask mandates fast enough to placate all manner of individual, ad hoc dissidents and private militias in official or unofficial service to the US-based oligarchs.  How else can the surveillance state ever use its facial recognition technology to surveil and arrest all the necessary suspects? 

The timing of the remake of Smokey and the Bandit, meanwhile, could not be more exquisite, with the arrival of the convoy of truckers coinciding with Joe Biden's State of the Union speech next week before the Congressional Joint. What a relief it must be to his own beleaguered party that he'll get away with a few whispered regrets about the failure of his Build Back Better social welfare package. He will drown them right out with a jingoistic emasculation of Vlad the Impaler! Geld Vlad Better, if you will. Can't you already hear the raucous bipartisan yells of USA! USA! USA! echoing through the hallowed halls? Can't you envision democracy itself rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the January Sixth sacrilege?

But just to keep the fear alive along with the exaltation, to maintain the free-floating anxiety so necessary for a resurgence of the Cold War if not a hotter one, the TV audience will also be regaled by at least a thousand National Guard troops policing the Capitol to supplement its actual encirclement by the same forbidding barbed wire which protected the ruling elites from the people at Biden's inaugural last year.

Biden is taking no chances. He is selling us on not just one Enemy Outside, but two. There is Putin over there, and there is the threatening convoy of Trumpy Truckers converging on Washington from all over the wild hinterlands of Outside Over Here.

We'll no doubt be hearing many plaintive cries for national unity from elites all over the political spectrum in the coming days and weeks and months. The spectrum of which I speak spans all the way from A to B, with myriad pinpoints and occult cracks in between for just a little surface variety.

It's a democracy, my fellow Americans. You have the freedom to pick from two options. Vote on which scenario will inspire, scare or disgust you the most in the latest propaganda battle for your hearts and your minds.

Is it this?


Or maybe this:

If, as Samuel Johnson opined, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, then the appeals for "unity"  and "civility" and "bringing the country together" are its partners in psychopathy.

We should avoid this cant like the plague, whose cruel reality and human cost is what the political scoundrels themselves are working like mad to avoid addressing.

*2/24 It is now a full-scale invasion. US intelligence has been vindicated, says US. They got exactly what they wanted. The neocon and liberal interventionist hawks must be in heaven, and Biden's poll numbers from the Dems will probably soar skyward as well, in the spirit of elite solidarity. And with Trump praising Vlad, it makes one wonder if the normally war-hungry Republicans will have no choice but to disown him. It would be quite an about-face if any anti-war movement in the US ends up being led by right-wing factions.

Friday, February 18, 2022

How Dr. Mom Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Plague

 Just in case the inconsistent and contradictory guidelines on masking from Anthony Fauci, liberal America's favorite brusque old grandpa, aren't enough to convince you that Learning To Live With Covid is not a euphemism for Accepting Death Graciously, the New York Times is here to set your minds at rest. 

They've reached out to a select group of lesser epidemiologists and physicians for advice on just how to chill the hell out. These medical professionals are young, they're hip, they're healthy, they're rich, and they know their germs a lot better than mere mortals like you and I do. If they can cope with pursuing their careers and having fun while raising their families, then so can you! 

However, the fine art of ignoring the pandemic does entail a tricky learning curve. Threading the needle on Following the Science® on the one hand and wallowing in rank magical thinking on the other is not a skill that you can learn overnight. Sangfroid in the time of Covid can only be mastered with lot of time and patience. Of course, if you are an actual Covid patient (short, long, or in-between), time might not exactly be on your side. But never mind all that, because the Times article is not directed at you anyway.

It's directed at the hip, the healthy and the hedonistic. Not to mention the financially whole. For example:

 "My (my bold) family has moved away from restricting our activities as the Omicron surge has receded," said Kate Eisenberg, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester. "We do not have anyone with high risk health conditions in the household, and we're all vaccinated and boosted."

Eisenberg is currently planning some family trips, including air travel, and she is allowing her 12- and 15-year-old children to participate in most family activities. She has been avoiding indoor dining and crowded indoor settings, but as cases continue to come down, she plans to go out more.

This weekend, she is taking her younger daughter to a sold-out Billie Eilish concert at Madison Square Garden - apparently operating under the delusion that a rock concert in February in New York is not a crowded unventilated indoor setting, and that thousands of gallons of spittle emanating from the orifices of hordes of cheering fans will be magically diverted away from her and her child.

The reporter of this advice column of an article, Jonathan Wolfe, was apparently so heartened and so emboldened by this Dr. Mom and the other hip professionals he interviewed that he even made himself an editorialized part of the story, inserting the following paragraph, right out of the blue:

After we’ve spent two years of living in fear of the virus, being asked to “live with” it now may seem daunting. But in many ways, we’ve been preparing for this moment since the outbreak and it can be easy to forget how far we’ve come.

Dr. Mom Eisenberg is then allowed to chime in again herself, noting that not one of her friends or patients even bothers asking her any more whether it's safe to do this or that. "Most people have settled on their own conclusions about what works for them," she schmoozed to the Times.

Her friends, of course, are not the same kind of people as those Canadian truckers who have reached their own selfish, road-blocking, supply chain-thwarting conclusions about what works for them.  People like Eisenberg and her immediate circle would never dream of blocking traffic as they pursue their exotic getaways and rock concerts. At the very first sign of a sniffle, they have their stash of antiviral pills, and walk-in closets full of test kits. And if there is not a doctor in their actual house, then at the very least they probably have a concierge medic on perpetual call.

As long as we can follow the science® we'll be just fine. It helps immensely, of course, that Doctor Mom and her cohort are not facing eviction or foreclosure and have enough disposable income to take airplane vacation trips and dine out and ignore the plight of the Great Underclass, whose own paltry gains in income have more than been wiped out by inflation, not least by increasing rents and high grocery prices and skyrocketing fuel costs.

All you have to do in Timeswonderland is admit that unlike smallpox, Covid can never be eradicated, not that they even want it to be at this point. As the Times quotes another smugly sanguine epidemiologist as saying, we can continue on our merry ways with "an arsenal of tools" consisting of vaccines, pills and all that wonderful "paid sick leave" that she and her PMC cohort enjoy. Never mind that mandatory paid sick leave is, thanks to the oligarchy-captured US Congress and executive branch and statehouses, not something that the vast majority of US citizens enjoy.

The only arsenal that the ruling class believes in, in fact, is a trillion dollars' worth of lethal war hardware, allocated for the cause of torture and misery and death all over the world, every single year.

And the Democrats and their professional-managerial class base still have the chutzpah to wonder right out loud why the Republicans are winning over the working classes, even as they persist in working with a party that is openly fascist. The two factions each need the other to maintain the oligarchic system.

 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi never seems to tire of saying so herself. How else can she maintain her own maternally therapeutic grip on power?  Like any Doctor Mom, she can't perform her quack-cure without having a preventable disease right there in front of her. And thanks to a long history of political malpractice, the US was sick unto death long before Covid appeared. It's a convenient crisis way too good for either Democrats or Republicans to waste.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Relaxed, Unmasked & Vaxxed to the Max

The sudden relaxation or abandonment of mask requirements in almost every single Democratic jurisdiction in the country this past week has all the orchestrated spontaneity of the mass Democratic crackdowns on the Occupy camps in 2011.

 Just as President Obama was conveniently out of the country at that time to keep his own hands clean, President Biden is conveniently out to lunch (if not yet completely out of his mind) regarding the evidence-free Semi-Official Cancellation of Covid.  The White House's position, even as the mostly avoidable US death toll from Covid is hovering near the shameful one million mark, is that the wearing of masks should now be up to local and state officials and individual discretion. The confusing new rules or guidelines are that if you're vaxxed, there is no need to be masked, despite the fact that you can still catch the virus. And if you're unvaxxed, you must still wear the mask. Maybe with a big scarlet UV sign on it?

 So hedging his bets, Biden is still recommending the masks be worn by everybody working or  learning in public schools. He certainly doesn't want the blood, or rather the infected respiratory droplets, of potentially millions of children, many of whom are not even partially vaxxed. on his hands. When the next outbreak or variant that they never saw coming emerges, his already-tiresome default reaction of co-opting his deceased son Beau as a means of comforting surviving family members of the victims of any number of state-sanctioned or state-enabled cruelties will have lost all its flaccid punch.

What with record inflation and the exhaustion of ginning up enthusiastic fear over the Russian invasion of Ukraine any minute now, Biden already has enough on his plate, even as most of his aspirational social policy proposals have conveniently been swept off the table. His party's contrived dilemma is the same as it ever was. How can they deliver better "messaging" about their accomplishments in lieu of actually delivering accomplishments? If only people weren't so gosh-darn fickle and attention span-deprived, they'd be expressing their gratitude, for example, for Biden's plan to allocate $5 billion in federal infrastructure aid for electric car-charging stations all over this great vast land of ours.

Even if you yourself can't afford one of these $40-50,000 electric cars, you can at least aspire to achieve access to one, despite the onerous student debt that Biden refuses to wipe out just like that, with one fell swoop of his executive pen. Barring that unicorny relief, you can still admire all the lucky electric car owners for having the environmental wokeness so sorely lacking in deplorable gas-guzzling drivers of 20-year-old rust-buckets held together with unsightly electrical tape. Furthermore,  just think how much easier it will be to ignore the lack of affordable housing in your neighborhood as you revel in the privilege of gazing upon the shiny charging station on the street where you live. Where you literally live, given the expiration of the eviction moratoriums since we've been informed that "we" have all learned to "live with" Covid. 

There are more important things to worry about. Shouldn't we all be joined together in unmasked vaxxed aghastitude at the shocking news that Donald Trump had clogged the White House toilet with incriminating documents? (forget the real shocker that there was apparently not only no working shredder in the place, but apparently only one toilet available to Trump for the flushing of documents in the whole White House). 

I mean, if you can't be satiated on Trump-hate as a healthy substitute for that 1.65-lb package of boneless skinless chicken breasts going for a shocking $20 at the local Stop N Shop, then what can you be satiated on? And especially since, now that masks are no longer required in supermarkets, you can even nibble on the free cheese and cracker samples as a meal substitute without even having to discreetly lower your mask to satiate yourself?

The thing we have to remember to remember at all times is that the good things that the Democrats do for us are being kept hidden. We therefore should keep prodding these overly modest and coy Democrats to be more boastful of these good hidden things, like the electric car charging stations that Biden wants to build.

 So says Paul Krugman, anyway, in his latest New York Times column celebrating Joe Biden's occult improvements to the Health Care Marketplace. How could we ever have missed his "Hidden Health Care Triumph?"  I felt so guilty myself that I almost broke out into a gaslit sweat when I was reading it. Then I remembered to remember that health care is not about the tens of millions of my fellow American citizens who either are uninsured or underinsured, but about the political prospects and fortunes of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.


In any case, whatever its intellectual merits, as a practical political matter Medicare for All isn’t coming to America any time soon. What’s actually at stake in the political arena are more incremental policy changes. Yet such changes can still have a huge effect on health care. And the partisan divide on health policy is as wide as ever.

In the opener of his piece, Krugman had poked fun at the usual diseased GOP fish in a barrel. This go-round it was Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) who'd mal-informatively tweeted out that  “Over 70% of Americans who died with Covid, died on Medicare, and some people want #MedicareForAll?”

Now, where have we heard that fallacious argument against single payer health care before, falsely equating bad health outcomes with government-paid single payer systems? I soon enough remembered to remember. And wiping the beads of gaslight-sweat from my brow and my brain, I posted the following response:

"With all due respect for Medicare for All, you have a single-payer system in Italy — it doesn’t work there.” What Republican uttered those ridiculous words, which posited a link between the terrible death toll in Italy at the start of the global pandemic and the government paying for the care and treatment of its sick people? The answer is Joe Biden, who was scoffing at his "good friend" Bernie Sanders at the March 2020 presidential debate. Biden is such a good guy that he even called Mitch McConnell a good friend of his at this month's National Prayer Breakfast. He is such a good guy that when M4A activist Ady Barkan, who is dying of ALS, interviewed him later in the campaign prodding him to support single payer, Biden at least promised the next best thing: support for a public option. But once safely elected, Biden never uttered the phrase "public option" again. Granted, it is a good thing that more people are getting subsidies to go shopping for private insurance product before they get sick and try to (heaven forfend!) cheat. Actually, it's their insurance companies that are getting the subsidies, including billions from govt-funded COBRA premiums. As for the venal congress-critter from Kentucky ridiculously blaming Medicare for the higher Covid death rate among Medicare recipients, it was probably to deflect attention from the fact that at least 70% of Americans favor M4A, That includes at least a third of GOP voters, some of them his own constituents. 

Speaking of party cults and their hacks, and the media's nauseating regard for Joe Biden's long history of collusion bipartisanship, Times columnist Charles Blow this week purported to be surprised that Biden (he assumed him to be a "good and decent man") had actually bragged about his long friendship with Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, who himself is being praised by more than a few liberals for having the self-preserving courage to disagree with his own party's position that the January Sixth riot was simply "political discourse." 


Last week at the National Prayer Breakfast, Biden said this of the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell:

“Mitch, I don’t want to hurt your reputation, but we really are friends. And that is not an epiphany we’re having here at the moment. We’ve always — you’ve always done exactly what you’ve said. You’re a man of word — of your word, and you’re a man of honor. Thank you for being my friend.”

Once I got The Golden Girls theme out of my sweaty brain, I submitted this comment:

It's no surprise that President Biden gushed all over McConnell at the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event which is not so much about prayer as it is about influence-peddling and pay-to-play. The only deity that they celebrate as one great big happy capitalistic family is the Market God.

They hide their corruption under the sacrament of bipartisanship. They insist against all reason that what citizens really want is not health care, a debt-free education, climate change reversal and living wages - but just that the movers and shakers in Washington just all get along together. Bonhomie among the elites is hazardous to our health. This is especially true when they agree, every single time, to fund the gruesome forever wars and surveillance state without so much as a pretend debate. Their constant litany of having God on their side as they bow their heads in prayer and wave their flags sounds more profane with every passing minute. Let's do away with the national prayer breakfast and implement a truth and reconciliation commission, run by a panel of citizens. Let's follow Aristotle's advice and select them by lot. They couldn't be any worse than the elected "reps" we're saddled with now.

Random Panel of Citizens

Monday, February 7, 2022

In Memorium: Jay-Ottawa

 It's with great sadness that I announce the death of John Janitz, whom the regulars here at Sardonicky knew very well as the prolific commenter "Jay-Ottawa."

He passed away in hospice care at the age of 87 in his home town of Gatineau, Quebec (which is right across the river from Ottawa proper) only a few weeks after being diagnosed with stage four cancer. 

As his quite entertaining obituary recounts, John had a "checkered career" beginning with a stint in the US Army and later with teaching at the college level, university library research, and work at the New York State Labor Dept. then finally switching permanently to ICU nursing before his retirement- if you can even call it a retirement. His last job, undertaken well into his 80s, was translating a book about Swiss Catholic philosopher Maurice Zundel from French into English. When I agreed to proofread and edit the manuscript, I found that very little of it needed any finessing at all.

It was only late last month that he told me - in the last email that he ever wrote to me, following up on my question about his last blog comment referencing Thomas Merton - that he himself had entered a monastery upon leaving the army. He stayed in the cloister for two years, opting not to take his final vows due to the requirement for absolute silence in the order.

 As he has displayed so often right here in these pages, staying silent was never an option for John!

Besides penning many hundreds of acerbic, refreshingly angry and often hilarious comments on this blog (there are few of the more than thousand pieces I have published that didn't contain a comment from him) John also wrote several guest posts which I will excerpt or link to at the end of this entry.

As a matter of fact, I never even would have started this blog 11 years ago had it not been for John's prodding. He'd written to me after reading my own comments in the New York Times and encouraged me to expand my political writing into a less restrictive and censorious venue. I will always be grateful for his ongoing support and friendship and suggestions over the years.

My condolences go out to John's wife Leticia and to his extended family. He was one of a kind, and will be deeply missed by what I know are his many, many friends and admirers and discussion-mates and fellow iconoclasts right here on Sardonicky.

Now, without further ado, here are just a few excerpts from, and links to, Jay-Ottawa's Greatest Hits, the Early Years.(For the complete library of Jay-Ottawisms, just scroll back through the month/year roster on your right, and hit any given entry published in last 11 years. Chances are, he'll be there in the comments section!

The Varieties of Pride (12/11/15)

"WASHINGTON — One key indicator of the health of the US aerospace and defense sector, foreign military sales rose to a record high of $46.6 billion for fiscal 2015, but US officials are warning of a dip in sales next year."

Dollars and contracting officers may be standard measures on the progress charts, but there are other indicators that the business of war is booming.  The arms export business is a fillip to sectors found on the fringes of war, many of them nonprofits, like Doctors Without Borders (MSF) or the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).  They also complain about not keeping up the pace.

Nothing changes.  All year round planes loaded with small arms and ammo lift off from the States and head east to the most lucrative trouble spots.  Ships loaded with the heavier stuff  cast off and head east with tanks, howitzers and drones, batteries included, some assembly necessary upon arrival.  All in time for Christmas if you order now.  Some of us wonder whether these exports will ever end.  Bon voyage, exports, down to the last round for whomever you're aiming to take out tomorrow.

Musings of the Lucky Man Who Thought He Was Self-Made (1/5/14)  This is modeled after Hamlet's soliloquy. A sampling: "What blameworthy fools/Those born unlucky/Short of physical wholeness/Short on intellect/Short of connected friends/Blind to the balanced view/What fools to have picked/As their Starting Line/Of all places/The doorstep of Want."

Where Is the American Anna? (8/20/11)

Something more is needed to whip up an effective level of attention.  I’m about to tell you what that is.  Given the nature of the world and the needs of politics, what we sorely lack is a hero.  To turn the country around we need intelligence and justice and commitment incarnate in human form – we need an ‘Anna’ -- a hero of integrity who is a visionary, who is not reluctant to use power, who is determined to turn the ship of state around before the current crew runs it up on a sand bar to be cut up and carted away.  Progressives need a person of the first rank in the front ranks of reform.  Until a hero steps forward the intellectuals are as doomed as the ignorant.  Awareness never saved timid kings from the falling axe.  Why should it spare us who wail and wring our hands in the bottom half of the economic pyramid?

The Right Stuff, 1/26/2012. An appreciation of the late Czech president Vaclav Havel, contrasting his vision of hope and change and truth with the shallow rhetoric of the then-US president.

The Allegory of the Wise Counselor, 7/3/11: John often used the moniker TLote (the Lesser of Two Evils) rationale for voting Democrat in his commentary. Here he does a full-on riff on the concept, pairing "Lote" with his abused spouse Columbia (Colie) The piece is as fresh now as it was 10 years ago. Until you get a chance read the whole thing, here's a teaser:

To hope forever is hell. So Colie, now in rags, ran off to the last shelter in town. Its motto was: “Do Not Complain” -- or DNC for short. Winnie Poop, the head counselor, heard Colie’s story and told her to run back to Lote’s arms.

“Really?” Colie was incredulous.

“Be realistic,” said the counselor. “Can’t you see your future will be even more bleak apart from Lote? You will end up on welfare, lose the kids, and spend your last days under a bridge. Do you realize you need major party affiliation to secure the best spots under bridges? Lote was committed to you. Count the emails begging you to come back. That’s more than you can expect from most guys these days. Believe me, in these times, you should not depend on the kindness of strangers.

And last but not least, here is John's valedictory, written from his deathbed at 4:30 in the morning on January 16th. He was eloquent to  the very end::

Sardonicky does well in its aim to shine light on the false values and illusions that immiserate and destroy life. Thomas Merton did the same in his late writing. His output was tremendous and he covered the horizon. His writing had room not only to say NO, but to say YES.

He was also an authority on James Joyce and published articles and reviews about Joyce in leading scholarly publications, even as a monk. I find it amusing that he copied the template of a naughty passage near the end of Ulysses to temper his NOs with many passionate YESes.

If I say NO to all these secular forces, I also say YES to all that is good in the world and in human beings. I say YES to all that is beautiful in nature, and in order that this may be the "yes" of a freedom and not of subjection. I must refuse to possess anything in the world purely as my own. I say YES to all the men and women who are my brothers and sisters in the world, but for this "yes" to be an assent of freedom and not subjection. I must live so that no one of them may seem to belong to me, and that I may not belong to any of them. It is because I want to be more to them than a friend that I become to all of them, a stranger.
Quoted in William Shannon, Silent Lamp, 262.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

That's Ignotainment

 Long gone are the good old days when deriding corporate news as "infotainment" was all the rage. It seems as though all we have left is the rage, manufactured for our ignotainment by those nefarious twin demons which the liberal elite have dubbed  Misinformation and Disinformation, and what the reactionary "populist" Trump and his plutocratic pals call Fake News.

They are striving mightily to subvert and supplant the twin demons of literary yore, Ignorance and Want. These personified social ills so affected Charles Dickens' Scrooge that he became instantly and permanently Woke. He was so rattled that he not only gave his wage slave Bob Cratchit an instant raise and paid time off, he also guaranteed life-long health care to Tiny Tim. The good feelings and new spirit of solidarity actually threatened to spread all over the land!

Ignorance and Want, from A Christmas Carol

But that story is so yesterday, not to mention restrictively seasonal. It's just a bridge too far for the elites - or when you consider that godzillionaire Jeff Bezos is having a historic landmark bridge dismantled just so that he can free his new mega-yacht from its Rotterdam harbor - a bridge too low for their bloated maniacal egos to squeeze under. Because instead of wanting to destroy the Ignorance and Want of the masses, today's sociopathic capitalists want to create more of it. They are the ones who disseminate Ignorance and keep their audiences Wanting more. The theory is that a constant downhill flow of rage and fear will keep the elites safe in their cocooned mansions, high-rise penthouses and those mega-yachts as the rabble is diverted into fighting it out among themselves. 

The virtue-signaling liberal side of the ruling class would have us believe that they are the enlightened ones, as opposed to those nasty old ignorance-spreading Republicans on Fox News. But this week, Whoopi Goldberg of The View put her foot right in it when, waxing indignant about the censorship in Tennessee (Scopes Trial country!) of Maus, a graphic novel about the Holocaust (because it portrayed nudity), she remarked in passing that the Holocaust was not about race.

The reaction from her fellow liberals was not so much the faux outrage of gleeful conservatives as it was disappointment that Whoopi Goldberg apparently didn't know that the Nazis had viewed Jews as a separate race. Her point of view was that racism is purely a matter of skin color. She doubled down on her stance when she crossed over from her ABC-Disney platform to the CBS wing of the media conglomerate to offer a non-apology apology on the Stephen Colbert show. She was mostly sorry that people had misunderstood her. She was very hurt. Whereupon ABC-Disney slapped her with a two-week suspension, ostensibly so that Goldberg can ponder and learn.

I think the real purpose of her banishment is so that this whole brouhaha can be swept under the rug. Because by the time two weeks are up, we'll be on to the next thing to get mad about. Maybe it'll be Biden declaring war on Russia. Maybe it'll be more has-been musicians yanking their music off Spotify in protest of Joe Rogan. Maybe it'll be another weather disaster spawned by capitalism. I doubt that the news, whether manufactured or whether completely real or natural, will be designed for fomenting good will or heaven forbid, erudition.

While most people, including me, think that Goldberg's temporary banishment is reactionary overkill, her bosses and defenders are as ignorant - or acting like they're as ignorant - as Whoopi. I haven't read or heard one single bit of commentary this week about Hitler's anti-Jewish 1935 Nuremberg Laws being at least partially inspired by the racist Jim Crow laws against Black people then in effect. So to start her ignorance rehab, I'd recommend that Whoopi Goldberg pick up James Q, Whitman's "Hitler's American Model: the United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law." That way, she might be able to have her cake and eat it too.

To be fair, few to none of us were ever taught about the connection between Jim Crow and Nazism in our American history books  This kind of fact-based information does, after all,  kind of make the United States, that great defender of global democracy and human rights, look like a hypocrite. This is especially so given that the Official Narrative now doesn't have fascism rearing its ugly head in the Homeland until Donald Trump was elected.

Lest you worry that low- and middle-brow Ignotainment, as practiced on The View and other cable talkfests posing as news channels, is failing abysmally at its censorious battle against Misinformation and Disinformation and Fake News, let me assure you that the more elite organs like the New York Times are still wheezing away with a  vengeance on their own Mighty Wurlitzers. 

They have a technique that is so passive-aggressive and sneaky that they can never be banished or canceled for any reason. They disseminate lies by wrapping them in layers of contradictions surrounded by ghostly anonymous CIA and Pentagon officials enveloped in disclaimers smothered by double talk. By the time the lies are exposed, if they ever are, they will be forgotten or forgiven.

This nefarious elite propaganda technique might be explained by a concept known as Ignotum Per Ignotius. It means that any given Unknown can only be explained by something that is even more Unknown. In other words, it is so annoyingly obscure, and so uninformative on its face, that if you don't understand it, then you are probably an ignoramus who should just go back to consuming ignotainment.

A perfect example of the deliberately muddy and convoluted Ignotum Per Ignotus technique can be found on the front page headline of Thursday's edition of the Times: "U.S. Exposes What It Says Is Russia's Effort To Fabricate Pretext For Invasion."

This is a pretty clumsy word salad. For one thing, a hunk of real estate being granted the power to speak should set your bullshit detector careening toward the danger zone.

But wait, it gets so much better that it devolves into ignotaining despite itself. For it seems that the Russians are planning to make a fake video wrapped in a disinformation campaign, and that the United Statesians are hoping to spoil it by alerting everybody now. The dastardly plan includes Russians collecting a whole bunch of dead bodies, strewing the corpses  across the countryside after blowing them up, hiring live actors and military props and filming the whole grisly tableau so that the Russians can then accuse Ukraine of committing genocide against Russian-speaking people. It's Wag the Dog, but without the comedy.

Now that its readers have been duly horrified, the Times inserts the usual butt-covering disclaimers:

Officials would not release any direct evidence of the Russian plan or specify how they learned of it, saying to do so would compromise their sources and methods. 


While it is not clear that senior Russian officials approved the operation, it was far along in the planning and the United States had high confidence that it was under serious consideration, officials said.


While the plan sounded far-fetched, American officials said they believed it could have worked to provide a spark for a Russian military operation — an outcome they said they hoped would be made less likely by exposing the effort publicly.

The highlights of the intelligence have been declassified, in hopes of both derailing the plot and convincing allies of the seriousness of the Russian planning. The officials interviewed for this article requested anonymity to discuss declassified but sensitive intelligence before it was released publicly.

 The article is meant to stimulate some reaction, any reaction, in America, in Europe and especially in Ukraine itself, whose enthusiasm for a conflict with Russia is a tad on the tepid dismissive side, to put it mildly. The military-industrial-media complex, ever in dire Want of ever more profits, is "exposing" a plot which may or may not exist. And when no film ends up getting made, it will be all the proof they need that the United States foiled the plot - which, let's be honest,  they themselves might have plotted. It has happened before. It actually sounds like part of the core curriculum for regime change as taught by the School of the Americas.

The top-rated reader comments to the Times article speak for themselves. That Mighty Wurlitzer just keeps right on wheezing and the played audience keeps right on clapping and Wanting more:

"So grateful for our intelligence community. They keep us safe."

"What credibility do we have as a country when Trump and almost half of the people in this country believe in manufacturing and fostering lies to overturn our own elections. What does the world actually think about anything we say when one of our political parties and its leader simply cannot be trusted and has proven to be a pawn of Putin?"

"The Biden national security team is playing a smart game keeping Putin off balance by exposing these schemes he's trying to gin up. This is a small payback for him and his goons getting involved in the 2016 election. It reminds me of the spy vs. spy black and white crow like figures in the mad magazine."

Oh, I don't know. The gaslit reader reactions kind of remind me more of this particular Mad character: